The Town of Oyster Bay Landmarks Preservation Commission has given the architect for construction on the historic Maine Maid Inn in Jericho until Thursday to provide additional information on the plans.
Architect Angelo Francis Corva agreed at an emergency hearing Thursday night to provide drawings of plans for the antebellum structure to the town building department before meeting again with landmarks preservation officials.
Corva, of Manhasset, said in an interview he had previously submitted plans to the town, but they were not presented to the commission.SEE MOREMap: LI historic placesStoryTown: Builder has 1 week to provide historic site info
Alterations to landmarked buildings require review by the commission. The town awarded the building landmark status in 2012, but the recent partial demolition of the structure by Scotto Brothers Inc. of Woodbury created an outcry among preservationists and residents.
Corva's plans to turn the building on Old Jericho Turnpike into a restaurant received its first public airing at Thursday's meeting and led to a wave of consternation among many of the roughly 30 people in attendance.
Commission member John Collins said the new plan would destroy many historic elements of the building, which served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves before the Civil War.
"What upsets me is little by little all of your decisions to make it useful as a restaurant are erasing all of that historic fabric," Collins said. "The precious little that's old is going to wind up in the Dumpster."
Corva acknowledged many architectural details would be lost but said the multimillion-dollar investment in a restaurant would save the building from vandalism and structural problems.
"This is not a restoration of this building," Corva said as he outlined plans that include removing chimneys and fireplaces, reconfiguring windows and roughly doubling the space with a new addition. "There's no rhyme or reason in the new plan that's reflective of what was there before," he said.
Corva said he was willing to add "false chimneys" to the roof to satisfy the commission.
He said in a later interview that he had not considered that the building plans would need to go to the commission for approval. Corva also said he had not reviewed but was willing to look at historical photographs, including some available from 1870 that Collins said showed details the new plan would destroy.
Deborah Strube, 55, a medical records administrator from Hicksville, told the commission the town would lose a valuable piece of history. "I was quite proud to think . . . that the Town of Oyster Bay would have such a historical piece of property that people could come and view," she said.
Town officials have not made the building permits public. Permits were not visibly posted at the site last week, as town code requires.
Commissioner of Planning and Development Frederick Ippolito, who is on leave while facing federal tax-evasion charges, is a commission member but was not at Thursday's meeting. He has declined to comment on the permits.
On Saturday, the partly fenced site was completely open on much of one side and had other openings. Town spokeswoman Marta Kane said Scotto Brothers was advised Friday to seal the site. "The code does require that a fence be erected," Kane said.
Town Supervisor John Venditto said last week a provision in the code allowed permits to be issued if the building was in bad condition.
Landmarks commission member Michael Spinelli said the history of the building was more important than its architecture.
"I would argue that if the Declaration of Independence took place in a shed, the historical event that took place is far more important than the building it happened to take place in," he said. "People will be able to say . . . within the four walls of this building, people helped slaves find their way to freedom."